Adoption is an exciting event for families in Atlanta, but adding more family members could affect inheritance laws.
If you have a will, you can add your adopted family to it. If a person dies without a will in Georgia, an intestate succession plan will kick in and the deceased's children are likely first in line to inherit.
So what are three legal inheritance issues to consider when adopting?
1. Adult adoption and inheritance. In Georgia, any adult who gives written consent can be adopted by another adult who's at least 25 years old. People who wish to be adopted as an adult may do so because they want to formalize a family relationship, like with a step-parent and child, or may be disabled and need to be under the formal care of legal family members.
However, when it comes to inheritance for adopted adults, the decision to adopt an adult can be based on estate planning reasons. For example, some childless couples who want their assets to go to another adult of their choice may can adopt that adult to ensure their estates' assets will automatically go to the adopted "child."
2. Adopting more children. For parents who already have biological children, but want to adopt more, adopted children should receive the same inheritance share as biological children if their parents die without wills. Under Georgia law, adopted children enjoy the same rights and privileges as birth children. Adopted children can also inherit from other relatives in the same manner as the biological children.
3. Adding adopted children to your will. Although adopted children may be first in line to inherit, along with birth children, if the parents die without a will, it may be a good idea to revise your will to include them. For example, if Georgia's intestate laws govern how assets will be distributed to your children at death, but you have a different plan in mind, you should reflect those wishes in your will. Further, if an adopted child is very young, you can assign a guardian for him or her in your will in the event something happens to you.
Beyond inheritance laws, adoptions can be a complicated, legal process. If you need more help, consult an experienced adoption attorney in Atlanta for more guidance on expanding your family.
- Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services (Georgia Department of Human Services)
- Can Unmarried Couples Adopt Children? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- 7 Types of Adoption: What You Need to Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Online Adoption Swaps May Not Be Legal: Report (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)